Are you one of those who have builders’ sand in their yard and can’t seem to find a way to use it? Or were you intrigued by the price difference between horticultural sand and builders’ sand?
If you fall into any of these categories, your search ends here as this literature explains whether you can use builders’ sand to mix with compost.
What Is Builders’ Sand?
Builders’ sand, as can be understood from the term, refers to the type of sand that is used by construction workers for infrastructure such as buildings, bridges, etc.
Builders’ sand is one of the essential components in concrete that makes up floors, beams, columns, etc. and it is also used in cement for plastering walls.
If you want to check how coarse builders’ sand is, you can visit your nearest garden supply store and find out for yourself.
Can You Use Builders’ Sand To Mix With Compost
Now that we have understood what builders’ sand is, let us skip to the main question- Should one mix builders’ sand with compost?
While there are many opinions out there, most of them are mixed opinions with their own reasons.
To begin with, composting is an eco-friendly way to handle waste with you going all green to preserve mother earth and it is often recommended by environmental experts. However, adding sand to compost is a different ball game altogether.
Sand is characteristically different from garden soil as it does not decompose and seems to add just weight to compost. However, there are several benefits to adding builders’ sand to compost and they are delved into in further sections.
Advantages Of Mixing Builders’ Sand With Compost
One of the most important questions to be answered is whether there are any advantages to mixing builders’ sand with compost. If there are advantages, what are they?
Following are the advantages of mixing builders’ sand with compost.
Some composts lack permeability, i.e. the property of allowing water to permeate through the composts. Lack of permeability results in the retention of water as the roots get waterlogged and this condition is not preferred for some plants.
Mixing builders’ sand with compost will enhance the drainage in the soil and plants that are suited to well-drained conditions will thrive.
Along with low permeability, composts might also lack voids in them. A lack of voids would mean that the roots do not get enough oxygen and nutrients.
If plants do not absorb the right amount of oxygen and nutrients, the plants will not be able to grow. Therefore, mixing builders’ sand with compost ensures that the plants are not deprived of oxygen.
Makes repotting easy
Another situation in which it is beneficial to use builders’ sand to mix compost is when your plant grows big and needs to be repotted. Composting with builders’ sand makes repotting very effortless.
When there is sand in the compost, the plant can be comfortably repotted in a larger pot without the risk of killing the plant.
Disadvantages of Mixing Builders’ Sand With Compost
A few disadvantages of mixing builders’ sand with compost are listed below:
Builders’ sand contains impurities like rocks and other debris that might lead to a decline in the growth of the plant. It not only stifles the growth of a plant but also harms it.
Furthermore, there is a good chance that builders’ sand permits the growth of bacteria and other pathogens due to its non-sterile property. However, these bacteria may diminish the growth of plants and even harm them to a greater degree.
Imbalance In pH
The pH of sand is not stable and can fall at either extreme of the pH scale. Therefore, adding builders’ sand to the compost might affect soil negatively as most plants flourish in either acidic soil or alkaline soil with some exceptions.
Should You Use Builders’ Sand To Mix With Compost
While one may embrace the idea of adding builders’ sand to compost on the grounds of the advantages, it is worthwhile to note that one should proceed with caution.
It is generally not recommended to use builders’ sand to mix with compost. Builders’ sand is typically coarse and not suitable for mixing with organic matter like compost.
It can also contain high levels of salts and other impurities that can be harmful to plants. It is preferable to use horticultural sand, as it is finer and created especially for use with plants and gardens.
Furthermore, it is recommended to use compost alone and not mix it with any other materials for the best results.
Which Is The Best Type Of Sand To Use For Compost
When it comes to using sand in compost, the best type to use is coarse, sharp sand.
Coarse sand, also known as horticultural sand or grit sand, is made from crushed rock and has larger grains than fine sand.
The larger coarse sand grains contribute to the compost having more air pockets, and this is advantageous for the bacteria that break down organic materials.
It’s crucial to remember that too much sand in the compost might make it hard for water and air to permeate, so it’s ideal to use a small quantity in combination with other organic materials like leaves, grass, and other plant debris.
What Is The Difference Between Builders’ Sand And Horticultural Sand?
Builder’s sand and horticultural sand are similar in many ways, but they have some key differences.
Builder’s sand is used in construction for mixing with cement to make mortar and for laying bricks, pavers, and other masonry products. It is also used to make concrete and as a base for paving projects.
Horticultural sand, on the other hand, is finer and has smaller grains than builder’s sand. It is specially used in gardening and horticulture to improve drainage and aeration in soil and to assist in the rooting process of some plants.
It can also be used to top-dress lawns and for other landscaping purposes.
In summary, Builder’s sand is used for construction and horticultural sand is used in gardening and horticulture
There is a fine line when it comes to using builders’ sand with compost and gardeners will have to be wary of that since ignorance will kill your plants and all the effort in mixing sand to compost will go to waste.
Horticultural sand is specifically made for gardening and composting purposes and is the best type of sand to mix with compost. However, as mentioned previously, sand must be mixed in the right proportions with compost for proper growth and good health of plants.
- Duddigan, S., Shaw, L. J., Alexander, P. D., & Collins, C. D. (2022). Effects of application of horticultural soil amendments on decomposition, quantity, stabilisation and quality of soil carbon. Scientific Reports, 12(1), 17631. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-22451-2
- Oh, H., Likos, W. J., Edil, T. B., & University of Wisconsin–Madison. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. (2021). Drainability of base aggregate and sand. Minnesota. Department of Transportation.